All the Feels

6 years ago, right before I left for Germany the first time, I probably sat in this exact same seat, writing a blog. I probably sipped my coffee while I sat for hours at my favorite coffee shop in my hometown of Toledo. I probably wondered what to write about and how to convey all that was in my mind as I prepared to do something that I never thought I would do. Shoot only about 8 years before that, did I think I would never leave the Toledo area, and yet I had left Toledo for Maryland only to come back to Toledo before taking the craziest step of my life. I was moving to Germany to do something I never intended to do.  I was going to Germany to be a missionary…weird.

6 years later and I’m writing this blog, thinking about all that has happened over the past 6 years and wondering what the future  holds. It’s weird how much changes over 6 years. While this coffee shop is no longer my “office” it still feels comfortable. I don’t know any of the people who work here anymore, but it is still a spot for me to relax, get work done and feel at peace.

But as I sit here in a place that connotes a feeling similar to what it did 6 years ago, I can’t help but think about what feels totally different. My home is no longer in the US. Though my family and good friends are here, which means part of my home will always be here, my home has moved to Germany. It’s where I feel the most comfortable, where I belong. It’s no surprise when you think about how God called me to this job, but it still seems strange. For a guy who never thought he would leave Toledo, home is no longer on the same continent.

Much more has changed for me, though.  As a teacher, I never felt confident that I was good at my job. I always struggled with confidence in general, except for when it came to my skill for planning events and baking peanut butter cookies. Beyond that, I would never tell you that I am particularly skilled. Now I will. I don’t make a habit of bragging, but I know that my skills are being put to great work helping create and run English camps, and I’m confident that I am doing that job well.

So many things are different and yet with those differences I see things that are the same. It’s crazy how we change over the years and at the same time, how we remain. I’m still the big goofball and nerd who can also switch gears to more serious topics. I’m still the son of Marge and Paul and I take all that they have taught me with me wherever I go.

All that is different and all that is the same makes me think: What will be different and what will be the same, the next time I make this place my office?


Home, Such a Funny Word

“Welcome home!”

“It must feel so good to be home.”

“Has it been nice to be home?”

These are the questions I have been answering from well-meaning people since I arrived back in the US for my year HMA in May. None of the people asking the question said anything wrong, but it caused some interesting thoughts to run through my mind.

“Is this home?”

“What makes a place home?”

“If this is home, does that mean where I live in Germany is temporary?”

“If this is home, why do I keep forgetting how things work here?”

You see, the difficulty for me is that, while I grew up in Toledo, I’ve also made a home for myself for 7 years in Maryland and now for 5 years in Germany. Does that make Toledo any less of my home?

Right now it feels like I have two homes, but on occasion it makes me feel like I am not genuine when I call one place home and not the other. What’s kind of strange is wherever I am at the time, I tend to call the other place home just as much as the place I am currently living. Weird, right? Welcome to my brain.

So, why do I write this? Why am I spending time explaining how home is a weird word and a weird idea to me right now? Well, because its something that I’ve been trying to figure out for myself and I know there are many other people who feel the same way. They are torn between two places.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying being “home” in the US, but at the same time there are things I miss about my German “home.” When I’m in Germany I will miss things about my US “home” while loving things in my German “home.”

As an uncle, a brother, a son, and a friend, my heart is often where I am not, so maybe the saying “home is where the heart is” is pretty accurate. If that is true, then welcome me (and anyone else who returns) home wherever I see you, but please remember that my home and heart lies elsewhere as well and that can cause some feelings of displacement.